RAMALLAH, June 14 (JMCC) – As Arab League chief Amr Moussa concluded a tour of the ravaged Gaza Strip
, Palestinian residents were hopeful that actions, not only words, would result from the historic visit.
Moussa said upon his arrival to Gaza Sunday that reconciling Palestinian factions Hamas
, and bringing an end to the blockade
of Gaza topped his agenda.
“The file of Palestinian reconciliation is essential to the League,” Moussa said upon his arrival, “and must be translated into agreement over the details.” Moussa also said that Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip “must be lifted” and that the Arab League was committed to making that happen.
Visibly shaken at moments during his tour of the Gaza Strip, Moussa heard the stories of the Samuni family, which lost nearly 50 members in Israel
’s 22-day war
in the Gaza Strip in early 2009. Israeli forces instructed family members to gather in one house, ostensibly for safety, then proceeded to shell the home repeatedly.
Moussa was greeted during his tour by Palestinians carrying banners and shouting greetings.
Palestinians he encountered asked the secretary-general to find a solution for the lack of cement and other building materials, which have been largely banned from entry into Gaza by Israel. The lack of building materials has prevented reconstruction of hundreds of homes and structures damaged during the war. Israel claims cement will be used by Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, to build bunkers.
“We hope this visit will lead to lifting the blockade and opening the crossings,” said 22-year-old farmer Mohammed Moussa. “But we have little hope for change because the Arab countries and their representatives are hypocrites. We hope Moussa will do something different.”
Housewife Amal Mustafa used an Arabic proverb meaning that she expected little from Moussa’s visit. “For 60 years we have heard little from the Arabs, but they have done nothing for us – all we hear is empty words.”
Muhammad Kaoud, a resident of Gaza city, said he believed that Moussa’s visit – that of the highest ranking Arab official since Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 – was too little, too late. “No one should come to us after all this time without bearing cement and iron with which to rebuild our homes,” he said.
Hamas officials were more hopeful after Moussa’s visit. “Prime Minister Haniyeh
met with Amr Moussa and briefed him on the situation in Gaza and the painful waystations of our people,” said Hamas leader Ismail Radwan.
“The result was that there is a consensus over implementing the resolutions of the Arab League regarding ending the embargo forever.”